The construction of minarets is controversial not just in Switzerland – where a vote on the issue takes place in November – but also in neighboring Austria. Yet Austria is unique in western Europe in that Islam has been a recognized religion in the country for more than 100 years, since the time when the Habsburg empire was also home to Bosnians.
But there were few Muslims living in what is now Austria. The first mosque, in Vienna, dates back only to 1979 and owes its existence to Muslim immigration following the Second World War. Since then the Muslim population has almost trebled, and the demand for more mosques has grown – along with resistance from rightwing parties.